A Patchwork of Policies: The Evolving Landscape of Short-Term Rental Regulation

Posted by Stephanie Rojo

New York City, Paris, and Little Rock. These cities may seem to have little in common, however, they have all experienced a dramatic increase in being a source of strain for individuals on all sides of the short-term rental (STR) regulation issue over the past year. Short-term rental platforms, enabled by technology, are changing how millions of people travel and serving as a boost to local economies.  Critics argue that short-term rentals contribute to higher rent and housing costs, but it’s far from clear that restricting Airbnbs will solve urban housing problemsNotwithstanding, cities are racing to regulate the practice.

New York City's de facto ban began last fall, while Paris’ Council is considering banning key boxes for STRs ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics. Little Rock saw an influx of short-term rental stays as the city was in the path of totality for this month’s eclipse. This demand spike comes after the City Council approved a measure last summer that capped the number of STRs in the city at 500. Similarly, Stowe, VT, a ski town also in the eclipse's path, had protests occur outside of town hall before a public hearing on a short-term rental registry ordinance. The Select Board passed the ordinance in early March.

The last few years have been a whirlwind for short-term rental policy. As more cities face housing shortages while vacationers also seek alternative stays and lodging around the globe, more local governments are weighing in on how to grapple with and accommodate an influx of travelers and residents, bolster tourism, and stimulate their economies while balancing residential housing needs. Myrtle Beach, SC took a different approach in early April. The City Council voted to instate a moratorium on converting short-term stays to long-term rentals along the beach due to fear of lost tourism revenue.

While this issue is not isolated to the city and county level, with nearly 90,000 local governments, there is no “one size fits all” solution model to regulating this issue. We are witnessing several regulation themes we have seen become increasingly popular in this space over the past year, including:

  • Bans in single-family home zones
  • Noise limits and nuisance penalties targeting "party houses"
  • Addressing illegal short-term rentals and enforcing permit requirements

In California, Long Beach directed the City Attorney to draft an ordinance for stronger enforcement options. Santa Ana approved a measure banning STRs entirely. Ojai's City Council reviewed their current ordinance and requested direction on potential amendments. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors considered preliminary approval for an ordinance regulating unincorporated areas. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Housing and Homelessness Committee will receive a report regarding enforcement analysis of the Home-Sharing Ordinance and suggested strategies for improvement.

Similarly, public officials in Scottsdale, AZ, Houston, TX, and Austin, TX may soon change their own ordinances. Houston is one of the only major cities without robust regulations, and Mayor Whitmire suggested the city will investigate regulating certain short-term rentals.

This activity is not limited to local levels of government. On the state front, Hawaii, Colorado, and Virginia are some of the legislatures actively considering short-term rental bills. However, in Arizona, all 11 proposals regarding the issue died before the session's end.

Rapidly changing regulations are not limited to certain areas, major cities, or tourist destinations. Councils, Boards, and their committees are actively considering this issue every week. Navigating this patchwork of policies can be overwhelming.

Don’t be caught off guard by the ever-changing short-term rental landscape. Stateside's Local Short-Term Rental Snapshot provides a comprehensive analysis of current and upcoming STR policies in key markets. This standard report equips everyone, from individual hosts to major booking platforms, with the knowledge to navigate these significant transformations.

What you'll find inside:

  • In-depth breakdown: Dive into policy changes affecting major cities like New York City, Austin, and Miami.
  • Expert insights: Understand how regulations impact housing affordability, rental supply, and your business.
  • Enforcement updates: Stay informed about the latest measures and implications for hosts and platforms.
  • Legislative highlights: Gain crucial knowledge about state preemption bills affecting local control.

Contact Stephanie Rojo, Director of Local Services, at str@stateside.com to request a free sample report.